Today’s Top AJBlog posts 01.10.14

Contrarian Musings: Why Folk Art Museum’s Building Should Not Be Saved (with slideshow)
Source: CultureGrrl | Published on 2014-01-10

Solving Field-wide Problems Together
Source: Field Notes | Published on 2014-01-10

Amiri Baraka Has Died, a Remembrance
Source: Straight|Up | Published on 2014-01-10

How Spotify killed off paid downloads
Source: Slipped Disc | Published on 2014-01-10

German Legislature May Move On Nazi Loot
Source: Real Clear Arts | Published on 2014-01-10


New York’s Symphony Space Director Resigns


“Laura Kaminsky increased the space’s new music programming significantly, helping to make it competitive with the Miller Theater at Columbia University, which had a long tradition of new-music presentation, as well as with relative upstarts like Le Poisson Rouge, which opened in 2008 and has become an important space for independent classical music, rock and jazz.”

The Demographic That’s Leaving Facebook


“A number of studies have found people feel worse after scrolling Facebook – more envious, lonely, even angry. In one German study, people were particularly unhappy after viewing vacation photos. They were also more envious when browsing Facebook instead of actively using it by posting comments and photos of themselves.”

You A Writer? Want A Free House?


“In a contemporary, literary twist on old homesteading incentives, a new nonprofit organization called Write a House is refurbishing three two-bedroom houses in Detroit and accepting applications this spring for writers to move in, rent free. Poets, journalists, novelists, and anyone who falls somewhere in between are encouraged to apply.”

California Governor Proposes $8000 (Yes Thousand!) Cut In State Arts Funding

California Science Center

Governor Jerry Brown’s budget plan calls for “an overall 8.5% spending increase, including major boosts to education, but envisions a $9,000 cut for the state’s arts-grant agency, the California Arts Council — from a projected $5.058 million in the current fiscal year to $5.049 million in the 2014-15 budget year that begins July 1.”

Is It Right To Destroy An Architectural Icon (Even If Flawed) To House More Art?


Tearing down New York’s Folk Art Museum: “Mine is not necessarily a view that everyone can accept: to many observers, the Folk Art building seems, like all too many museums these days, to be a grand-scale sculpture that fails to showcase the art it was built to house. But if that is MoMA’s opinion, then it should say so, which could help stimulate a worthwhile public discussion on the aesthetic of architecture.”

Amiri Baraka, 79, Poet and Firebrand


“One of the most influential African American writers of his generation, [he] courted controversy as a poet, playwright and provocateur and who was a primary intellectual architect of the Black Arts movement of the 1960s.”

How Egypt’s Most Popular Novelist Came to Support the Military Government


Alaa Al-Aswany (The Yacoubian Building) was a strong opponent of the Mubarak regime and champion of the Arab Spring, and he cheered his homeland’s first democratic elections. A year later, he cheered the military’s overthrow of Presdient Morsi and the elected Muslim Brotherhood government – and most of Egypt’s intelligentsia (and a quite a lot of the public) cheered right along with him. What happened?

Did Disney Really Need To Reinvent Prince Charming?


The new animated blockbuster Frozen subverts the fairy tale idea of a handsome, noble, chivalrous suitor by making him the surprise villain of the story. The gambit presumes, of course, that the Prince Charming myth needs debunking. On the contrary, argues Akash Nikolas, that myth serves some very useful and healthy purposes.

The Bechdel Test Is Not Enough Anymore


You know the Bechdel Test: “Do you, movie, feature two or more named women? Do they talk to each other? About something besides a guy?” But Katy Waldman observes, “In 2014, we are still whooping with delight when movie studios depict a woman sharing a snippet of non-dude-focused conversation with another woman? This is not exactly a high bar.” And several other writers weigh in on how they might update the Test.

Freed From Prison, Pussy Rioters Begin a New Movement

Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) and Mariya Alekhina in a

Since their release, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have begun using their new-found fame, connections and energy for the cause of prison reform. Masha Gessen describes the horrific conditions they faced in their penal colonies and explains why this new work could have far more resonance within Russia than singing about Putin in a Moscow cathedral did.